Monday, June 22, 2009

more prairie adventures

This past Thursday, the kids and I checked out the weekly Farmer's Market. I had high hopes of being able to buy super fresh produce for super cheap. Greg had a new project in the works and our garden was not going to be able to provide a large enough crop.

The Farmer's Market was a little bit pitiful. There was only one stall that had anything I'd consider buying. So we did. They gave us samples of some huge strawberries. Oh, they were good. Stephanie and Heather managed to bat their eyelashes at the grandma-lady and get more than one sample.

A couple of Saturdays ago when I was gone for a while for the kids' dress rehearsal for their dance recital, Greg went to the library. I came home to find him knee deep in books about canning. He told me that he wanted to try canning. I got so excited and told him that I had always wanted to try canning. He told me to back off cuz this was his project. Aw, heck.

We couldn't find a pressure canning pot ~ or any canning pot for that matter ~ in town, so we ordered one. We figured out the cheapest place to get the jars. The canner came Thursday, so off we went to the market.

Saturday morning there was another Farmer's Market at a community center. We got cherries and blueberries there.

We were ambitious. We picked out five recipes to try.

Look at those tomatoes, Kim! Although these are quite good, I am happy to say that the ones we grew and the one I got from my student tasted better than these. Wait a minute, I paid for these! Well, I'm happy that Greg is turning out to be quite the farmer. Next year we will plant far more tomato plants. The one we have this year got so heavy that the cage couldn't hold it up and it toppled over. We don't think it will give us any more tomatoes this year.

Even though Greg declared this his project, he was happy to receive help from the girls and me. We even let them use the sharp knives. We all tested the fruit as it was being prepared. See Stephanie chewing? During the cherry pitting, I just about got myself in trouble because I tested a lot one or two of those cherries. I was suddenly reminded about a house my family lived in for a few years when I was a kid that had a cherry tree. The cherries off that tree were divine. I had forgotten about that tree. These cherries tasted the same.

The kids were such good helpers. I had already planned a shopping trip with Suzanne for the afternoon, so for a while it was just them and Daddy cookin' in the kitchen.

Greg is patient about letting them help in the kitchen.

I'm so paranoid about them helping around the stove. Greg is far more laid back about it but thinks my rules are reasonable. They must stand on a stool and pull their hair back.

Some projects required a long wait time until the next step. Stephanie kept notes about when the project would be ready for the next step and taped them on the cabinet doors for everyone to clearly see.

We canned Saturday and Sunday. Here's what we made:

Strawberry Preserves Supreme

We haven't tasted this yet. It takes about 2 weeks to fully set up. We got 11 half-pint jars of this recipe.

Apple Pie Conserve

We had a little extra of this that didn't fit into a jar. We had some on biscuits Sunday morning. It's like apple pie on a biscuit. So good. This only made 4 jars.

Blueberry Syrup

Technically, this is not a canning project, but the recipe was in the book and we had enough blueberries.

Blueberry Orange Marmalade

We had a little extra of this too. We haven't tried this one yet. This was in a short batch recipe book. It was supposed to make 3 cups, but we only got two.

Maraschino Cherries

This batch was supposed to make more, but we only got 3 jars. Again, a little extra that didn't fit in the jars. We had it on ice cream last night. Do you think Greg will notice if I hid in the closet with a jar of this and a spoon? We need to get more cherries.

Overall, canning was a success. We finished all the projects we set out to accomplish this weekend. Greg has decided that he prefers the larger batches over the short batches ~ more bang for your time. Greg got to spend Father's Day weekend doing exactly what he wanted to do. Greg said he really enjoyed this project because it was less about the cooking and more about the science.

Next up? I think we should try something with tomatoes. Or maybe peaches. There are so many tempting recipes!

1 comment:

Danny and Paulette said...

Tell Stephanie she has some straw- berry in her teeth.